Hello, hello! It’s been a while, hasn’t it?
Thanks for sticking around, if you’re still there…
I have a deliciously warming, simple, one-pot recipe for barley stew coming up, but before that, it’s cards-on-the-table time.
I’ve been creating, photographing and writing recipes for The Whole Ingredient for four years now, and – well – it’s become a bit of an albatross. I need to… step back.
I started this blog when I was lost. I was stuck. I’d extricated myself from an absurd career in teaching only to find the promising new life in publishing was, like many jobs, actually really un-challenging and incredibly dull. I don’t deal too well with this sort of thing, and I began to sink into despair.
And so, encouraged by Dan, a new hobby that accompanied my new life as a vegan seemed like the perfect diversion. It was challenging, full of learning, fulfilling and satisfying. People started to follow my posts and tweet me their creations (thank you!), and I was invited to blogger events and was sent ingredients. I started to feel like I’d achieved something.
And, I think I had.
But this has never been my job (and it certainly doesn’t pay the bills). And I never wanted it to be. But I realised that I had begun operating with that mindset.
And I felt pressured to keep up with so many posts a week or month, to try to make my photos look professional, keep updating the design of my website and write content about nutrition.
Which, beyond food being vegan and mostly whole, is not something I really care about. At all.
I began to dread weekends, because I knew I’d have to make and photograph a new recipe. And because I hate trying to use a camera properly (as you can tell from these prime examples), it would end in stress, anger and bitterness. All of my own creation. Which is insane.
By Christmas, I just really couldn’t face it anymore. When you can’t stand the thing that does pay the bills, and the thing you’ve created to escape it has become its own burden, you know you’re doing something wrong.
So I just stopped.
It wasn’t a conscious decision, I just stopped.
Instead, I’ve been working really hard on my freelance copywriting business – something I love. And taking walks, reading more, writing more.
But I don’t want to abandon completely what I’ve created here, so I’ll still post the odd recipe. Maybe one a month. If I feel like it. Probably less.
Because I still want to show people that making vegan food is easy, tasty and healthy.
So thanks for sticking around – I hope we can still be friends.
Now that we’ve got that sorted, I think you’ll really like this barley stew. It’s seasonal, it tastes great, you can make it in one pot and it’s pretty cheap. So that’s lunch sorted for the whole week.
Here’s the recipe – and I’ll see you again soon.
- 2 tsp oil (I used rapeseed)
- 500g celeriac
- 750g new potatoes
- 1 white onion
- 1 carrot
- 4 celery stalks
- 6 garlic cloves
- 125g mushrooms
- 1 small winter cabbage
- 150g pearl barley, rinsed
- 2 fresh bay leaves
- Handful of fresh thyme
- 1 tsp each turmeric, cumin, coriander, smoked paprika, cayenne, cinnamon (or 1 stock cube)
- 1 tsp miso (optional)
- 1 tbsp good soy (or a pinch of good salt)
- 125ml white wine (optional, or 1 tbsp lemon juice)
- 1.5l water (more if needed)
- Black pepper and more fresh thyme, to serve
- Heat the oil in a large saucepan or casserole dish on a medium hob setting. Peel and chop the celeriac into 1cm cubes, dice the potatoes, onion, carrot, celery, and chop the garlic. Add these to the oil and stir.
- While these are cooking, chop or slice the mushrooms and cabbage. Add these to the pan.
- Now stir in the pearl barley, followed by everything else. Stir, cover and leave to cook for 40 minutes to an hour. Check back intermittently to see if you need to add more water.
- Serve in bowls with black pepper and thyme (some nutritional yeast goes down pretty well, too).
- I say this serves four, but it's probably more like six.
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